Disturbing Trend: Chief Risk Officers Blowing Past CFOs On the Way to Meeting with the Boss
Time was, a CFO functioned as the main consiliere to the CEO. Finance issues? The CFO is on it. Accounting irregularities? Done. Taking the flak from analysts on the earnings calls? It’s not all glitz and glam, now is it? Nowadays, after some not so solid decisions were made in the recent past, another member of the C-suite has successfully curried favor with the boss. Someone who would ordinarily be fetching the CFO’s 3 pm pick-me-up. That is, the Chief Risk Officer:
Citigroup Inc. (C), American International Group Inc. (AIG) and UBS AG (UBSN) are among other companies raising the profile of risk executives. The derivatives meltdown that sparked the 2008 Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. collapse and an 18-month recession catapulted the role from obscurity to contention for future chief executive officers. “The person sitting in the risk chair now is reporting to the CEO so the caliber has to be higher,” said Neil Hindle, who runs the CRO search practice at Egon Zehnder International in New York. “There has been a real increase in power over the last two years.” That’s evident in the compensation, which can reach $10 million at large financial institutions now, compared with $500,000 as recently as 2001, Hindle said. Five years ago, a CRO typically reported no higher than the CFO, he said.
Granted, if you’re someone like Dave Viniar, you’ve got very little to worry about since you’re irreplaceable. But if you’re slightly lower on the intellectual scale, you best watch for that CRO buzzing right by you on the meeting that you weren’t invited to. Next thing you know, CFOs will be picking up their shirts and dry cleaning.
Chief Risk Officer Rises to $10 Million Job [Bloomberg]